Town of Innisfail is looking at generating its own solar power.
The municipality is researching the viability of a solar farm that would generate 1.5 to two megawatts of power. It would be located on seven acres of former sewage lagoon land in the Southwest Industrial Park.
It is expected to cost about $3.5 million to build the project. The money would be borrowed and recouped through the sale of electricity, either into the provincial grid or to specific customers, such as nearby industrial businesses.
Town council approved spending almost $110,000 in September to bankroll electrical grid studies and other necessary background work.
Steven Kennedy, the town’s director of operational services, said the project is still in the early stages.
The town has been talking with Fortis to ensure that the solar farm could tie into the grid if it goes forward and what would be required.
The idea came out of town council’s goal of exploring ways to become more environmentally sustainable as well as finding new sources of revenue for the community.
Staff reached out to Fortis to see if a solar farm was a worthwhile ambition and what sort of revenue it might generate.
They were told that the initiative could potentially generate about $500,000 in annual revenue. That would allow cost recovery in six or seven years and would then provide ongoing revenue for the municipality.
“We did some research with regards to that and we found there was definitely potential there to make it a viable project that would pay for itself and then be a long-term revenue generator for the town,” said Kennedy.
There is much work that remains to be done. One of the companies in the industrial park has suggested it may be interested in buying power from the project.
Kennedy will be looking into which option — selling into the grid or providing power to local customers — is the best fit for the town. He hopes to come back to council with more information in a couple of months.
Innisfail is already home to a much larger solar power project.
A 25-megawatt solar farm began operating in 2020 on 115 acres of town-owned land off Highway 54, just north of the Innisfail Golf Course. It is operated by Innisfail Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Elemental Energy Inc.